Coronavirus: Seasonal shift appears unlikely for South Dakota high school fall sports

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South Dakota probably won’t be moving any of its fall high school sports and activities to the spring.

The fall sports/activities task force assembled by the South Dakota High School Activities Association met for over two hours Thursday afternoon, working on a draft document that addresses a series of points, including what sports and activities will be offered this fall. Nothing has been finalized yet, but SDHSAA executive director Dan Swartos said the 20-person group is trending towards keeping fall sports “what they are and where they are,” adding that they remain “cautiously optimistic” that they will be able to operate with all of their sports this fall.

“If there are stops and starts within there, then we’ll deal with that,” Swartos said.

There are multiple models being discussed, but should a season have to be suspended, Swartos said they would “absolutely consider” making adjustments to the winter and spring seasons in order to accommodate the completion of a fall sport later in the school year. 

“There are a whole lot of moving pieces that would be involved in that,” Swartos said. “The good thing is we have timeā€¦ We have a full school year to play with here so we’re going to do what we can to get (seasons) in and completed. Our focus is getting kids active and involved in what we can throughout the whole school year.”

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The task force also addressed participant safety (working through a new set of NFHS guidelines), recommendations on crowd sizes, benchmarks for re-evaluation and protocols for screening, confirmed close contact and confirmed positive cases during Thursday’s meeting. 

Screening protocols will be expanded to include symptoms identified by the CDC over the past few weeks, while confirmed exposures and confirmed cases will be handled in accordance with Department of Health guidelines. A confirmed close contact with a COVID-19 case requires a 14-day quarantine. A confirmed positive case requires isolation for at least 10 days. 

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The committee continues to work through fan attendance and crowd sizes, but Swartos said restrictions will be largely determined by local guidelines. “What we don’t want to see is a school allowing their fans at home, but not allowing fans to come from the visiting school,” he noted.

It is important to remember that nothing has been finalized yet, but Swartos confirmed that the task force still plans to have a formal proposal for the SDHSAA board of directors by the week of July 20.

The committee is expected to meet again late next week. 

Follow Brian Haenchen on Twitter at @Brian_Haenchen.

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